Dominik Wałkowski

Tougher sanctions for environmental offences

On 14 September 2010 the Polish Government approved the guidelines for an act amending the Penal Code and other acts relating to environmental offences.

We wrote about the planned amendments in an interview with Izabela Zielińska-Barłożek, a partner at Wardyński & Partners who heads the Environmental Law practice group (interview available here).

The bill is designed to implement into Polish law the provisions of the Environmental Crime Directive (Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law). The purpose of the directive is to achieve more effective environmental protection by introducing sanctions that are severe enough to deter violation of environmental regulations.

The proposed regulations call for revision of a large portion of the Polish Penal Code governing environmental offences. Significantly, creating a threat to the life or health of just one person will be sufficient for criminal sanctions to be imposed. An environmental offence causing serious health consequences or death will be subject to imprisonment of 1 to 10 years or 2 to 12 years respectively.

Once the bill is drafted, it will be submitted to the parliament. Under the Environmental Crime Directive, the directive should be implemented in Poland by 26 December 2010. At the current stage it is hard to say whether this deadline will be met.